Monday, March 9, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 9 — Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus, continue to be confirmed around Washington state. In total, 19 people in Washington state are known to have died from the disease.
► LIVE from Washington Post — U.S. markets crater with stocks down more than 5% — Oil prices plummet while investors flee for safe havens including U.S. treasuries, amplifying global recession fears as the outbreak spreads.
► In the Seattle Times — Inslee says ‘mandatory measures’ under consideration to combat coronavirus in Washington — Officials are considering mandatory measures for social distancing as part of the state’s effort to combat the outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday. Inslee didn’t disclose many details about the actions being contemplated but did say “social activities” could be curtailed.
► In the Seattle Times — Protect the rights of working people during coronavirus crisis (by MLK Labor’s Nicole Grant) — During this uncertain time, working people are here to keep our community healthy and safe. If we come together, this difficult time will prove the quality of our Washington and our humanity.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Gig workers fall through the public-health safety net as coronavirus spreads in Washington — Like over 80% of independent contractors surveyed in a 2019 Washington Department of Commerce study, Derek Kaye does not have paid sick leave through his primary source of income. The time he will need to take off to recover will be unpaid and there is financial pressure to get back to work. While Uber announced on Friday it would provide up to 14 days of pay for U.S. drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are placed in quarantine by public health agencies, the policy would not help drivers like Kaye, who were not able to get tested.
► In the Kitsap Sun — Custodians are on the front line of keeping schools clean amid coronavirus fears — Custodians at school districts across Kitsap County are amping up their cleaning routines.
► From The Hill — AFL-CIO head asks members to call lawmakers, advocate for federal standards amid coronavirus outbreak — “Unions have been protecting our members on the front lines, and we have highly trained and equipped workers. The COVID-19 outbreak is another tragic reminder that the United States is not prepared to adequately protect our health care workers and first responders from infectious disease,” writes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Join AFL-CIO call to action on COVID-19
► From The Atlantic — What Trump could do right now to keep workers safe from the coronavirus — OSHA has the power to institute emergency standards, but that would require the president to overcome his aversion to regulation.
► From HuffPost — Democrats propose emergency paid sick days to address coronavirus — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that paid sick leave could help keep commerce flowing if the outbreak in the U.S. worsens. “It would help insulate the economy from a real bad downturn,” he said.
The Stand (March 6) — Sen. Murray introduces emergency paid sick leave legislation
► From Politico — How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the U.S. — By the end of February, the World Health Organization had shipped tests to nearly 60 countries. The United States was not among them. Why the United States declined to use the WHO test, even temporarily as a bridge until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could produce its own test, remains a perplexing question and the key to the Trump administration’s failure to provide enough tests to identify the coronavirus infections before they could be passed on.
► In the Washington Post — Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis — HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s bungled announcement before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 13 was just one of many preventable missteps and blunders in the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis — the embodiment of an administration that, for weeks, repeatedly squandered opportunities to manage and prepare for a global epidemic that has killed thousands worldwide.
► From HuffPost — Flight attendant union chief slams Trump ‘chaos’ over coronavirus
► In the NY Times — With coronavirus, ‘Health Care for Some’ is a recipe for disaster (editorial) — The Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants could make the epidemic worse… Doctors and immigration advocates have long worried that the public charge rule would present a grave public health danger. The rule could deter millions of noncitizens — even those who were not technically subject to its provisions — from using programs like Medicaid, WIC and SNAP or from seeking medical care of any kind, lest they imperil their immigration status. That kind of avoidance would make those groups less healthy and thus more susceptible to the vagaries of, say, an infectious disease outbreak.
► In the News Tribune — Coronavirus spotlights perils of the global supply chain (by Bill Virgin) — There are renewed questions about whether we ought to be so reliant on that global supply chain, whether we’ve made ourselves more vulnerable to massive disruptions that can lead to sustained shortages and economic calamity.
► LIVE from The Guardian — Global markets plunge as infections pass 110,000
► From the Journal of Commerce — Portland judge slashed award against ILWU — The next move will be by ICTSI. Simon granted ICTSI two weeks to inform the court if it will accept the reduced damages. If it accepts the significantly reduced amount of $19,061,248, Simon will enter the award. The ILWU would then have 30 days to decide its course of action. The ILWU’s options would be to pay that amount, appeal the decision, or file for bankruptcy… “We are disappointed in the court’s opinion that ICTSI Oregon Inc. only suffered $19 million in damages rather than the $93.6 million the jury awarded after hearing all the evidence during the two-week trial. We are now considering all options in our continuing efforts to hold the ILWU accountable and obtain justice,” said Elvis Ganda, president and CEO of ICTSI Oregon, in a statement issued over the weekend.
The Stand (Dec. 13, 2019) — ILWU: Our union will survive this challenge (by ILWU President William E. Adams) — The struggles that the ILWU is facing have brought us to a watershed moment… Rest assured, there are no funeral plans and the ILWU will survive this challenge. We must remain calm and focused.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing tax-break repeal is still pending as clock ticks down — Negotiations continued over the weekend on a bill repealing a tax break for the Boeing Co. in hopes of ending a trade dispute There’s no doubt lawmakers want to take it away as the company requested. The conversation is on whether Boeing should face new conditions if it is to ever get the tax break back later.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Where pro-worker legislation stands at the State Capitol — Friday was the cutoff for bills to pass both houses of the Washington State Legislature. Among the bills that beat the deadline and passed Friday were long-sought legislation to establish minimum train crew sizes and important legislation on housing affordability… Still in question is whether lawmakers will include any accountability language in the legislation to end the aerospace tax breaks at Boeing’s request. It’s not too late to contact your legislators and urge them to include strong accountability language on jobs and investment in Washington state as part of any “snapback” provision in HB 2945 and SB 6690.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Two “Black Swan” cataclysms leave Boeing facing uncertain future as MAX grounding hits one-year mark — The extended grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX, which this week passes the one-year mark, has made the jetmaker’s future tough and uncertain. Now the global spread of the coronavirus — which has rapidly slashed demand for air travel and for jets — will complicate its efforts to recover. At an aviation conference in Austin early last week, industry veterans struggled to analyze the impact of these two “Black Swan” events — unpredicted developments that each delivered an existential shock.
► From Reuters — Ethiopian draft report blames Boeing for 737 MAX plane crash — A draft interim report from Ethiopian crash investigators circulated to U.S. government agencies concludes the March 2019 crash of a Boeing Co. 737 MAX was caused by the plane’s design, two people briefed on the matter said Friday.
► From Politico — Bad Air: Pilots worldwide complain of unsafe cabin fumes — Despite cabin crews’ calls for investigations and tougher rules to ensure that engine oils don’t bleed into cabin air, so far regulators in the U.S. and the EU aren’t convinced that any danger posed to crews warrants significant action.
► In today’s Walla Walla U-B — Washington’s presidential primary ballots due Tuesday — The Democratic presidential field has shrunk rapidly over the past week, but the roster on ballots Washington’s voters must return by Tuesday in the state primary will not. Thirteen Democratic candidates, including 10 who have dropped out, remain on the state’s ballot, finalized in January so they could be mailed early to military and overseas voters.
► In the Washington Post — Unions seek to be kingmakers if Democrats are split at the national convention — Four of the country’s biggest unions (NEA, AFT, AFSCME and SEIU) are seeking to position themselves as kingmakers in the event of a contested presidential nomination battle, maneuvering to get their members elected as delegates who would throw their weight behind labor’s preferred candidate at the Democratic National Convention.
► From Politico — AFL-CIO scraps Orlando presidential forum — The AFL-CIO canceled a forum planned for this Thursday featuring Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. An AFL-CIO spokeswoman said it was scrapped due to the “ongoing coronavirus outbreak.”
► From Bloomberg — AFL-CIO sues Trump administration over union elections rule — The AFL-CIO on Friday asked a federal district court in Washington, D.C. to shoot down a new National Labor Relations Board regulation that would revise the union election process. The rule, slated to take effect April 16, is expected to slow down union elections at private workplaces by giving employers more power to oppose the contests on legal grounds before workers go to the ballot box and after the votes are casted.
► In the NY Times — Erik Prince recruits ex-spies to help infiltrate liberal groups — Prince, t , contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups. One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show. Both Project Veritas and Prince have ties to Trump’s aides and family.
► From Reuters — Amazon launches business selling automated checkout to retailers — Amazon on Monday is set to announce a new business line selling the technology behind its cashier-less convenience stores to other retailers. The world’s biggest web retailer said it has “several” signed deals with customers it would not name. A new website Monday will invite others to inquire about the service, dubbed Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.
► From WBZ — Charlestown, Mass. power plant workers strike over public safety concerns — Employees of Exelon Mystic Generating Station, Massachusetts’ largest power plant, (Utility Workers Union 369) say they were essentially forced by the company to go on strike over concerns for public safety.
► From The New Yorker — Why Alaskans are trying to recall their governor — Mike Dunleavy slashed public services in Alaska under the guise of populism. Now a statewide movement wants to remove him from office.
► From The Guardian — ‘This is our feminist spring’: millions of Mexican women prepare to strike over femicides — With the violence still rising, a new generation of Mexican feminists – whose number Dalilah recently joined – are mobilizing with increasingly radical tactics in the hope of forcing their government to act. “We won’t just sit around quietly waiting for another woman to be murdered or for another girl to be raped,” said Carolina Barrales, one of the founders of Circulo Violeta (Violet Circle), the Tijuana-based feminist collective that helped organize the 14 February protest there. Barrales said her group wholeheartedly backed direct action as a means of halting gender violence… This weekend activists launched their latest acts of dissent: a nationwide rally on Sunday and a potentially historic 24-hour women’s strike today in which upwards of 20 million Mexican women are expected to take part by staying at home.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.